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Are you planning to attend college or career school in 2019-2020? You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online – also known as FAFSA -- starting October 1, 2018 . Completing the FAFSA is necessary to apply for federal student aid, as well as other aid and scholarships.

Remember, you have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you're in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. And, it's FREE to complete the FAFSA.

Why is it helpful to complete the FAFSA early?

You don't have to complete the FAFSA immediately when it's available; however, it's good to complete it as soon as you can to be sure that you receive full consideration for financial aid. Some funds are available as first come, first served. Be sure to list any college that you're thinking of applying to, or that you currently attend.

Filing earlier means that you'll have information about your Expected Family Contributions earlier. You will have more time to make an informed decision about where to go to school, and how you will pay for it. This will make planning easier.

Where can I learn more about financial aid?

Visit StudentAid.ed.gov/fafsa to find out: how to fill out the FAFSA and create your FSA ID, what information is needed for the FAFSA, what the deadlines are, and what happens after the FAFSA.

Ask questions of your high school counselors as well as financial aid offices of colleges.

What else does Illinois Extension's educators have to say about student loans?

In past blog posts, we've talked about How to Cut Expenses While in College and Student Loan Repayment: You Have Options. This is all still good information.

Plus, our archived webinar, "Love Your Loans: Student Loan Repayment," #GetSavvy provides a good overview of loan types and how to repay them.